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Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs for County Division
How do I request access to adoption records?
As a result of adoption records being impounded by statute, a court order must be obtained for access to the records.
Can a non-family member petition the court to have a person involuntarily committed?
Yes, the involuntary commitment process is the same whether a family member or non-family member petitions the court after observing a person exhibiting dangerous behavior toward themselves or others.
What options do I have if my child will not take their medication while they are in the hospital?
The treating physician will petition the Court requesting that your child be administered the required medication by force. If the Court agrees with the evidence presented in a court hearing by the treating physician that your child is in need of medication, a court order will be issued indicating that your son will receive the necessary medication by force. If the Court does not agree with the treating physician, an order will entered in favor of your son. The Court will weigh all of the evidence presented at the hearing to make a determination.
How do I obtain information in my adoption case file (biological parents, medical history, siblings, etc.)?
The Clerk's Office, by law, cannot release adoption information. However, the petitioner in an adoption case can register with the Illinois Adoption Registry. It is possible that your birth parent(s) may already be registered and you don't need to search for them. If your birth parents are not registered, you can petition the Court for the appointment of a Confidential Intermediary.
I just received a “Take Notice” stating that my property has been sold for delinquent taxes and I did not own the property at the time the delinquent taxes were due. Do I have to pay these taxes?
The tax purchaser is responsible for notifying all interested parties, including the owner, that the taxes have been sold on a particular property. If you are the owner, you should request an Estimate of Redemption from the Real Estate Taxation Services Division of the County Clerk's Office located at the Cook County Building, 118 North Clark Street, Room 434, Chicago, IL.
If you are an occupant or an otherwise interested party, you are being given notice that the taxes have been sold on the property. You should contact the owner right away to determine if they are aware of the situation. Please note that the current property owner is responsible payment of all taxes due and owed on their property.
What is a Confidential Intermediary?
A Confidential Intermediary is a trained certified person appointed by the Court to assist with locating a birth relative on behalf of an adoptee or a biological relative. Each party's privacy and confidentiality is protected during the search process. The Midwest Adoption Center, a not-for-profit agency, is under contract with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to provide this service. Their information can be found on their website,
or by calling at (847) 298-9096.
How do I obtain copies of a final judgment order for adoption so that I can acquire necessary documents, such as a new birth certificate, passport, or a Social Security card?
You may choose any one of the various steps described below to obtain copies of the final judgments or judgment orders for adoption cases:
The petitioner must fill out a
Request for Certified Copies of Court Records in Adoption Proceedings
form. Once the form is filled out, you can submit it in person or by mail to the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, County Division, Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St., Room 1202, Chicago, IL 60602. Please see Step 3 below if you are unable to come into the office or mail the form. The petitioner must present a picture ID with the same name on the identification as the name on the adoption petition. It would be helpful to have the case number. If the file is located in the Division, the petitioner will be escorted with the file and request to the chamber of the presiding judge. The presiding judge will sign an order allowing the Clerk's Office to release a certified copy of the Judgment Order of Adoption.
If it is a foreign adoption, the Social Security Administration may require additional documentation for citizenship purposes (passport, naturalization papers, etc.). Contact the Social Security Administration.
Or, Step 2:
Confirm that your adoption attorney requested that the birth certificate be amended to reflect the adoption. The attorney may have your copy of the amended birth certificate. If they do not, they should confirm for you that an amended birth certificate was issued. If one has not been issued, they should proceed with securing an amended birth certificate for you.
Or, Step 3:
What if I cannot come into the office? The petitioner can write a letter to the Clerk of the Circuit Court detailing all of the information regarding the adoption: name of adopting parents, name of adoptee and case number, if known. The petitioner must include a notarized copy of their picture identification with the same name on the identification as the name on the Judgment Order or Adoption file. Mail the letter to Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, County Division c/o Adoption Unit, Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St., Room 1202, Chicago, IL 60602. The request, along with the court file, will be given to the presiding judge for review. The presiding judge will grant or deny your request. If the presiding judge approves the request, the Petitioner will receive a certified copy of the Judgment Order. The Clerk's Office will contact you by mail of the outcome and any fees that need to be collected from you so that we can honor your request. If the presiding judge denies the request, the petitioner will receive a letter from the presiding judge.
I just received a “Take Notice” stating that the property where I live has been sold for delinquent taxes and I do not own the property. If I redeem the taxes, will I own the property?
No, you will not own the property. The legal owner of the property is the only person allowed to redeem the forfeited taxes. If you redeem the taxes and are not the property owner, your redemption will be expunged.
I just received a “Take Notice” stating that my property has been sold for delinquent taxes and I paid the taxes, what can I do?
You should contact the Cook County Clerk's Office, Real Estate Tax Division, and offer proof that your taxes have been paid and are current so that they can correct their books. They are located in the County Building at, 118 North Clark Street, Room 434, Chicago, IL. Their website address is
How can I gain access to mental health records?
Mental health records are confidential and restricted. The only people allowed access to mental health records are the respondents or patients to whom the mental health case belongs. If a person would like to view their own case file, they may come to Room 1202 of the Daley Center with photo identification and complete form
, Authorization for Access to Records of Court Proceedings. Upon completion of the form and satisfaction of the clerk as to the identity of the person requesting the file, the file will be pulled and presented to the requestor. The requestor may view the file and make any photo copies in the presence of the attending clerk.
The respondent/patient may also authorize an individual to view the records on their behalf, such as an attorney. The individual requesting to view the file on behalf of the patient/respondent should approach the clerk in Room 1202 with a completed Authorization for Access to Records of Court Proceedings form (
) and photo identification for the patient/respondent as well as themselves. Upon satisfaction of the clerk, the file will be made available to the authorized person for viewing and photo copying.
If a family member is acting erratic: appearing to have hallucinations; mumbling to themselves; hitting themselves or tearing my personal belongings, how can they get medical attention?
If it appears that a family member may hurt themselves or others, you can contact the Mental Health Division of the State's Attorney Office at (312) 603-8600. The office will guide you through the proper steps to have an Emergency Writ issued. If you find that there is imminent danger, you may call 911.
What if an ill family member is no longer in the house and cannot be found?
The Emergency Writ allows the Police Department 72 hours from the time the writ is issued to find the ill family member, detain him and transport him to the medical facility. If the family member is not found during that time frame, you will have to return to court and request that another Emergency Writ be issued.
I want to look at a Tax Deed case, but all I have is a PIN number. What can I do?
You may come to Room 1202 and approach the County Division Counter Clerk with your request. Once you have paid the required Record Search fee, the Counter Clerk will search for your case by using the PIN number. All case numbers associated with that PIN number will appear on the Electronic Docket.
I just obtained an Emergency Writ so that my child can be taken by the Chicago Police Department to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. What happens if they are not found within 72 hours?
If your child is not found within the 72 hour time frame by the Chicago Police Department, the Emergency Writ will expire and you must start the process over to have another Emergency Writ issued.
How do I become an emancipated minor?
You may petition the court to become an emancipated minor by completing the forms Petition for Declaration for Emancipation of a Minor
and Judgment Order of Emancipation (
. Once the forms have been completed, an original and a copy of the forms should be brought to the County Division in Room 1202 of the Daley Center for filing. Once the forms have been filed, you will be given a case number and directed to the Motion Desk where you may schedule your case for hearing in front of a judge.
If you need assistance completing the forms or ensuring that you legally qualify for emancipation, you should seek the aid of an attorney or a legal service provider.
If an ill family member is located and he or she is transported to a mental health facility, how long will they keep him or her?
The law does not allow a person to be held for more than 24 hours without having an examination.
If a hospitalized family member wishes to leave the hospital, can they continue to be detained?
At the time of admission, the hospital will evaluate your family member to determine whether they should remain hospitalized. If it is determined that your family member requires admission to the hospital and they protest, a petition for involuntary commitment will be filed with the Clerk's Office along with the First Certificate detailing the results of the first 24-hour examination. Another evaluation will be given within 24 hours from the first examination. Upon completion of the second evaluation of your family member's condition, the hospital will file a Second Certificate indicating the results of that examination with the Clerk's Office.
A court hearing will be scheduled within five (5) days of your family member's admission to determine if they are subject to involuntary commitment. Upon hearing the merits of the petition, the court will make a determination as to whether your family member will remain in the hospital or be released.
How do I file for Judicial Review of an election matter?
A Petition for Judicial Review is a self-drafted document. The petitioner must file the original and a copy of the Petition for Judicial Review in Room 1202 of the Daley Center. Once the petition is filed, the matter will be immediately assigned to a judge's calendar. The petitioner will proceed to the Presiding Judge's Chamber in Room 1701 of the Daley Center for an expedited court date for a judicial hearing.
What is the criteria that must be met before applying for a name change?
You must live in Cook County for at least six (6) months; otherwise, you must apply in the county in which you previously lived.
You have no convictions or any felonies, otherwise you must wait ten (10) years to change your name.
You cannot apply if you have been convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors that require that you must register with the Sex Offender's Office.
What is the procedure to file a petition for a name change?
You must complete the
Name Change Form
with the affidavit on the third page, the judgment form, and the cover sheet. The affidavit must be signed by someone who knows you (not a relative) and notarized before submitting all forms.
Once forms have been completed, take them (Name Change Petition, Judgment Order, and Civil Action Cover Sheet), including the notarized affidavit on the petition, to any one of the outlying five (5) Circuit Court district offices: Rolling Meadows, Skokie, Maywood, Bridgeview or Markham.
Or, take the forms to the Circuit Court of Cook County - County Division in the Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington, Room 1202 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you need assistance, there is an Advisory Help Desk in Room 1303 to answer any questions.
Once the forms are completed, pay the fee, which at this time is $359.00.
You will be given a court date, judge, room number and time to appear in court at least eight (8) weeks from the date of filing.
According to State law, you must publish your name in the newspaper for three (3) consecutive weeks for a fee (check with the newspaper as to the fee).
You must bring the publication piece with you to court.
You must bring the old birth certificate with you to court.
You must bring the Judgment Order with you to court.
The judge will grant or deny your petition.
If the name change petition is granted, you will bring a stamped copy of the Judgment Order to the Clerk's Office for certification which costs $9.00 per certified copy.
You will mail a certified copy of the Judgment Order and a copy of your old birth certificate to Illinois Department of Public Health along with a $15.00 money order so that an amended birth certificate can be created for you.
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